I’ve been had. Quite frankly, I didn’t see it coming.
I have been a loyal customer at Verizon Wireless for probably the last six years or so, and have generally enjoyed their services. However, lately I had been hearing from coworkers that they are paying up to $20 less for their monthly plan than my own. The perfect opportunity came up for me to remedy this situation: my two-year contract was completed in June. So, I decided to bargain with them.
As if Verizon knew that I was thinking about walking, or because the cell phone market is completely saturated and now companies need to focus on keeping clients rather than bringing in new ones, a sales man called me from Verizon two weeks before the end of my contract. He gave me a great offer: I could pay $34.99 per month for a 300 minute plan, and he would throw in either a free month, or an extra 200 minutes of overage every month of the contract. It was clearly a no-brainer to me; I took the 200 minutes in overage. Also, I found out that since I am a Texas State employee, I was eligible for a 20% monthly discount off of any plan that I chose. What a deal. For some icing on the cake, I chose a snazzy new phone by Samsung that was completely free (after a $50 mail-in rebate, which promptly came in the mail). I smugly signed my two-year contract.
I have always had this bill automatically charged to my credit card, and saw my first month’s bill come in for $97. After checking the statement out, it made perfect sense: $47 for the monthly charge (which was $10 cheaper than I had been paying), and a $50 charge for the new phone (which I received a rebate on). Perfect. Then came month two: $104.53.
After looking at the statement, I determined that there was an extra $55 charged due to “voice usage overage” of 119 minutes, for a grand total of 419 minutes used. I called the customer service rep, knowing that this would be an easy fix. The customer service rep was very nice and offered to look into the situation. Apparently they had tried to put the extra 200 minutes per month of overage onto the account (which is proof that I was offered this by a Verizon Wireless sales person), but he said that they could not do so because they simply don’t offer that on such a low minute plan. Hadn’t someone called to tell me this? I said absolutely not, and that I would never have signed the two-year contract with them had I known this. He put me on hold for several minutes to speak with his manager.
“Ma’am, thank you for holding. My manager says that for an additional $5 per month, we can give you a 400 minute per month plan, and then I can give you a credit for the $55 you were charged in overage last month.” At this point, I was livid.
“Sir, you will give me that credit for overage, and then I will decide if I want to stay in this two-year contract because I signed it under false pretenses.” (Note to readers: It is not a good idea to mess with someone who deals in government regulations all day, especially if they are frugal and it deals with money).
The rep was clearly taken aback, but must have known that I was in the right. He gave me the overage credit, and then I took his name and number. I told him I would be calling back to let them know if I wanted to stay in the contract.
Honestly, I still do not know whether or not I want to stay in this contract. It really boils down to whether or not I want to spend my precious time looking around for another cell phone service provider and comparing more deals. But the point of my article is to share this experience. I hope it encourages you to stick up for yourself in case you are in a similar situation because you do have rights, and provide a reminder for why it is a good idea to check bills that are automatically withdrawn or charged to your credit card if they look fishy.